The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

NCAA Regional: No. 6 VandyBoys cruise to 12-2 victory over Eastern Illinois

The Commodores put together an impressive offensive showing en route to a 12-2 victory over Eastern Illinois on Friday night.
Barrie Barto
Davis Diaz rounding the bases after his home run on June 2, 2023 (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto).

With an SEC title under their belt, the No. 6 VandyBoys welcomed the Eastern Illinois Panthers to Hawkins Field on Friday for their first game of the Nashville Regional. A six-run third inning propelled Vanderbilt to a comfortable 12-2 victory.

Devin Futrell got the nod for the Commodores, extending his streak of consecutive weekends with a start to 13. He struggled in the first, surrendering a triple to center fielder Lincoln Riley to kick off the game. First baseman Ryan Ignoffo gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead on the very next pitch when he drove a double into left-center field. The damage was limited to one run, however, as Futrell retired each of the next three batters.

The Vanderbilt offense came out of the gates equally as hot, scoring two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Enrique Bradfield Jr. led off with a single and Davis Diaz followed with a double, putting two runners in scoring position with no outs. RJ Schreck leveled the score by driving a sacrifice fly into left field before Parker Noland gave the VandyBoys their first lead of the night on an RBI single to right.

With a lead to protect, Futrell settled in and got to work. He allowed just one baserunner over the next three innings, striking out four while limiting hard contact. His precise command of the strike zone and ability to work quickly and efficiently were representative of what he displayed throughout the course of the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Commodores continued to put pressure on the Eastern Illinois pitching staff. Bradfield Jr. picked up his second hit of the game with a leadoff double in the third and Diaz brought him around when he crushed his ninth home run of the season over the left field wall. A walk from Noland and a hit by pitch from Chris Maldonado saw Panthers starter Ky Hampton pulled from the game after recording just seven outs.

Right-hander Jonathon Hanscom fared even worse out of the bullpen, walking RJ Austin and Troy LaNeve to bring in Vanderbilt’s fifth run of the game. With the bases still loaded, Alan Espinal broke the game wide open by driving a line drive double into the gap that scored all three runners. By the time Eastern Illinois came back up to the plate, Vanderbilt had built a comfortable 8-1 lead.

The Panther bats came alive in the fifth when shortstop Chris Worcester bounced a double down the right-field line and came around to score two batters later on a throwing error by Diaz. Ignoffo looked to have kept the rally going with a single into left field but when LaNeve missed his cutoff man, Riley attempted to score and was thrown out at the plate by Noland, quelling the threat.

That out was the last Futrell would record as he was pulled after allowing back-to-back singles to kick off the sixth. His final line read seven hits, seven strikeouts and two runs (one earned) in five innings of work. Tim Corbin trusted Thomas Schultz to work out of the jam, and he did exactly that: eliciting two ground outs and a strikeout to end the inning.

Vanderbilt squandered a scoring opportunity of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Singles from Noland and Maldonado and a walk from Austin loaded the bases with two outs for LaNeve, but he swung through a high fastball on a full count, stranding all three runners.

The following inning, however, the Commodores finally got back on the scoreboard. Espinal led off with a walk and Jonathan Vastine followed with a monster home run into the center field bleachers to extend the lead to 10-2.

Two more runs came across in the bottom of the eighth when Maldonado walked, Austin reached on an error and Espinal singled.

The ten-run lead was more than enough for Schultz, who kept Eastern Illinois off the board during his four innings of work. He allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out five to close the door on a Friday night victory.

With a win under their belt, the VandyBoys move into the winners’ bracket. The Commodores will be back in action at 8:00 p.m. CDT on Saturday, June 2 to take on Oregon at Hawkins Field.

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About the Contributors
Luke Rollfinke
Luke Rollfinke, Senior Staff Writer
Luke Rollfinke ('25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science planning to major in mathematics with a minor in communications. Luke loves all things sports, so when he's not writing for The Hustler, he's probably either playing for a club or intramural Vanderbilt sports team. You can reach him at [email protected].
Barrie Barto
Barrie Barto, Editor-in-Chief
Barrie Barto ('25) is majoring in medicine, health & society with neuroscience and communication of science & technology minors in the College of Arts and Science. She previously served as Photography Director. When she's not strolling around campus with her camera, you can find Barrie cheering on the St. Louis Blues or tracking down the best gluten-free food in Nashville. She can be reached at [email protected].
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